Results tagged ‘ starting pitcher ’

June 7 – Happy Birthday Ed Wells

“Boomer” was not the first Wells to pitch for the Yankees. That honor belonged to today’s Pinstripe Birthday Celebrant, a southpaw named Ed “Satchelfoot” Wells. The Tigers originally signed this Ashland, OH native in 1922 with the condition that he could keep attending college full-time and pitch during the summer. He made his big league debut for Detroit in June of 1923. His first manager was the legendary Ty Cobb. Though most guys who played with, against and for the “Georgia Peach” hated him, Wells was an exception. The two got along great even though Cobb admitted he couldn’t help his young left-hander get better because he knew nothing about pitching.

Wells was with Detroit for five seasons and went 12-10 for them in 1926 and led the AL with four shutouts that year. But his inconsistency got him released after the ’27 season. He spent 1928 with the Birmingham Barons of the Southern League where he went 28-7 and caught the attention of the Yankees. New York brought him to the Bronx in 1929 and he went 13-9 during his first season in pinstripes. He followed that up with a 12-3 season in 1930 but his ERA was over five. Fortunately for Wells he was pitching for an offense that included Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Bill Dickey, Tony Lazzeri, et. al. who made scoring more than five runs per game a habit that boosted the pitcher’s winning percentage.

Wells Yankee Stadium locker was situated right in between Ruth’s and Gehrig’s so he became good friends with both men. He also was the object of one of the Bambino’s most famous practical jokes. Ruth invited the pitcher to go on a double date with him after a Yankee road game in Detroit. When the two Yankees knocked on the door of the girl’s apartment, a guy claiming to be her husband opened it holding a pistol which he fired directly at Ruth. A horrified Wells turned and ran all the way back to his Detroit hotel. By the time he got there, Tony Lazzeri told him Ruth had been shot and was up in his room asking to see Eddie.

When Wells entered the Babe’s suite, the lights were turned down low and Ruth was laying in a bed with ketchup spilled on the white sheets and talcum powder all over his face to feign a dearly pale. Wells took one look at his famous teammate and fainted on the spot.

He ended up pitching a total of four years for New York, before getting sold to the Browns just before the 1933 season started. He had the misfortune of becoming a Yankee right at the time managerial instability. His first Yankee Skipper, Huggins died unexpectedly during the 1929 season and then Bob Shawkey got fired to make room for Joe McCarthy. Wells was 37-20 in Pinstripes and 68-69 when he left the big leagues for good in 1934. He shares his June 7 birthday with this great Yankee catcher.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO HBP WHIP
1929 NYY 13 9 .591 4.33 31 23 5 10 3 0 193.1 179 102 93 19 81 78 1 1.345
1930 NYY 12 3 .800 5.20 27 21 3 7 0 0 150.2 185 101 87 11 49 46 4 1.553
1931 NYY 9 5 .643 4.32 27 10 12 6 0 2 116.2 130 68 56 7 37 34 1 1.431
1932 NYY 3 3 .500 4.26 22 0 14 0 0 2 31.2 38 19 15 1 12 13 0 1.579
11 Yrs 68 69 .496 4.65 291 140 92 54 7 13 1232.1 1417 750 637 78 468 403 12 1.530
DET (5 yrs) 24 28 .462 4.90 115 56 34 19 4 7 444.1 547 287 242 20 191 147 5 1.661
NYY (4 yrs) 37 20 .649 4.59 107 54 34 23 3 4 492.1 532 290 251 38 179 171 6 1.444
SLB (2 yrs) 7 21 .250 4.38 69 30 24 12 0 2 295.2 338 173 144 20 98 85 1 1.475
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/7/2013.

May 22 – Happy Birthday Tommy John

Tommy john YSLMy wife dragged me to a performance of Les Miserables at Proctor’s Theater in Schenectady, NY several years ago. I was not a fan of the place because the seats were built for munchkins and there was absolutely no way for a person my size to get comfortable. Plus if you’re familiar with the epic play about the French Revolution, you know I was not in for a night of excitement and laughs.

Sure enough, as soon as the curtain opened I started fidgeting and with my knees crammed against the seat in front of me, both of my legs quickly went to sleep. I was just about to close my eyes and force myself into a numbing nap when I heard my wife whisper, “That’s that Yankee pitcher’s son singing.” I opened up my program and sure enough, one of the lead characters was Tommy John’s boy. I think it was Travis and he had an absolutely amazing voice.

In spite of this connection to my all-time favorite baseball team, my legs were getting prickly, the lady next to me was pushing my arm off the armrest and I spent the rest of the evening in a painful agony. I remember how good it felt when the final curtain came down and we were able to get up and start walking toward the theater’s exit. As we crawled along with the large crowd approaching the door leading outside, I noticed a man leaning against the wall in the corner nearest me. As I passed him I smiled and told him that his son had a wonderful voice. Tommy John smiled and mouthed back the words “Thank you.”

I liked Tommy John when he pitched for the Yankees but I liked him even more when I saw him that night at Proctor’s Theater. After all, John is 6’3″ tall just like me so I know his legs were sore too. I knew then and there that in addition to being a great pitcher, Tommy was also a good father.

John may be most famous for the surgery (ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction) named after him but he was a pretty good Yankee pitcher too. He had two twenty-victory seasons with New York during his first stay in the Bronx and then went 13-6 for them as a 44-year old in 1987. One of the things that most surprised me when I was doing research for this post was finding out that Tommy won more games as a Yankee (91) than he did for the Dodgers (87) or White Sox (82.) As of right now, those 91 wins place him in the 20th spot on the Yankees’ all-time career wins list. He has more wins as a Yankee than Roger Clemens (83), Bob Turley, David Wells (68) or Catfish Hunter (64) were ever able to achieve in pinstripes.

John was born in Terre Haute, Indiana on May 22, 1943, the only member of the Yankee all-time roster to be born on today’s date. I was also surprised to find out that there were not too many former Yankee all-star-level players born in Indiana. The best of the Hoosier-born Yankees were Don Mattingly, Don Larsen and John.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
1979 ★ NYY 21 9 .700 2.96 37 36 1 17 3 0 276.1 268 109 91 9 65 111 1.205
1980 ★ NYY 22 9 .710 3.43 36 36 0 16 6 0 265.1 270 115 101 13 56 78 1.229
1981 NYY 9 8 .529 2.63 20 20 0 7 0 0 140.1 135 50 41 10 39 50 1.240
1982 NYY 10 10 .500 3.66 30 26 2 9 2 0 186.2 190 84 76 11 34 54 1.200
1986 NYY 5 3 .625 2.93 13 10 2 1 0 0 70.2 73 27 23 8 15 28 1.245
1987 NYY 13 6 .684 4.03 33 33 0 3 1 0 187.2 212 95 84 12 47 63 1.380
1988 NYY 9 8 .529 4.49 35 32 2 0 0 0 176.1 221 96 88 11 46 81 1.514
1989 NYY 2 7 .222 5.80 10 10 0 0 0 0 63.2 87 45 41 6 22 18 1.712
26 Yrs 288 231 .555 3.34 760 700 22 162 46 4 4710.1 4783 2017 1749 302 1259 2245 1.283
NYY (8 yrs) 91 60 .603 3.59 214 203 7 53 12 0 1367.0 1456 621 545 80 324 483 1.302
CHW (7 yrs) 82 80 .506 2.95 237 219 5 56 21 3 1493.1 1362 573 490 99 460 888 1.220
LAD (6 yrs) 87 42 .674 2.97 182 174 6 37 11 1 1198.0 1169 460 396 64 296 649 1.223
CAL (4 yrs) 24 32 .429 4.40 85 76 3 14 1 0 489.1 610 263 239 42 125 143 1.502
CLE (2 yrs) 2 11 .154 3.61 31 17 1 2 1 0 114.2 120 63 46 11 41 74 1.404
OAK (1 yr) 2 6 .250 6.19 11 11 0 0 0 0 48.0 66 37 33 6 13 8 1.646
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/22/2014.

May 11 – Happy Birthday Walt Terrell

waltterrellDrafted by the Mets initially in 1979, Terrell did not sign. The Rangers drafted him the following season, signed him and then bundled him with Ron Darling in a trade for Met fan favorite Lee Mazzilli. Terrell went 19-23 during his three seasons at Shea. In 1984, the Amazins dealt the right-hander to Detroit for Howard Johnson, a transaction that worked out well for both teams. Terrell thrived in the Motor City winning 47 games during the next three seasons. When he slumped to 7-16 in 1988, Detroit traded him to San Diego where he got off to a horrible start during the 1989 season and was just 5-13 by the end of June. That’s when the Yankees swapped their slumping third baseman, Mike Pagliarullo for Terrell and Walt ended the year by winning six of eleven decisions for the Bombers. The Yankees let him walk after that one half-season and he signed with the Pirates. He eventually returned to Detroit where he retired after the 1992 season with 111 victories during his eleven-year big league career.

Only one player in big league history has made the All Star team playing for both Detroit and New York and that’s “the Boomer” David Wells. Here’s my line up of the best players to wear the uniforms of both the Yankees and Tigers during their playing careers:

c – Ivan Rodriguez
1b – Cecil Fielder
2b – Billy Martin
3b – Aurelio Rodriguez
ss - Tom Tresh
of – Rocky Colavito
of – Curtis Granderson
of – Steve Kemp
dh – Gary Sheffield
p – Jeff Weaver
p – David Wells
p – Virgil Trucks
p – Doyle Alexander
cl – Duke Maas
mgr – Ralph Houk

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
1989 NYY 6 5 .545 5.20 13 13 0 1 1 0 83.0 102 52 48 9 24 30 1.518
11 Yrs 111 124 .472 4.22 321 294 10 56 14 0 1986.2 2090 1031 931 187 748 929 1.429
DET (7 yrs) 79 76 .510 4.26 216 190 9 44 9 0 1328.0 1379 687 629 126 516 621 1.427
NYM (3 yrs) 19 23 .452 3.53 57 56 1 7 3 0 369.2 377 168 145 25 149 181 1.423
PIT (1 yr) 2 7 .222 5.88 16 16 0 0 0 0 82.2 98 59 54 13 33 34 1.585
SDP (1 yr) 5 13 .278 4.01 19 19 0 4 1 0 123.1 134 65 55 14 26 63 1.297
NYY (1 yr) 6 5 .545 5.20 13 13 0 1 1 0 83.0 102 52 48 9 24 30 1.518
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/11/2013.